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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 9 January 1756

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Dr Thomas Wharton M:D:
in Kings-Arms Yard, Coleman

Dear Doctor

I am quite of Mr Alderman's opinion; provided you have a very fair prospect of success (for I do not love repulses, tho' I believe in such cases they are not attended with any disgrace) such an employment must necessarily give countenance & name to one in your profession, not to mention the use it must be of in refreshing & keeping alive the Ideas of Practise you have already got, & improving them by new observation. it can not but lead to other business too in a more natural way, than perhaps any other; for whatever lucky chance may have introduced into the world here & there a Physician of great vogue, the same chance may hardly befall another in an age; & the indirect & by-ways, that doubtless have succeeded with many, are rather too dirty for you to tread. as to the time it would take up, so much the better. whenever it interferes with more advantageous practise, it is in your power to quit it. in the mean time it will prepare you for that trouble & constant attendance, wch much business requires a much greater degree of. for you are not to dream of being your own Master, till Old-age & a satiety of gain shall set you free. I tell you my notions of the matter, as I see it at a distance, wch you, who stand nearer, may rectify at your pleasure.

I have continued the Soap every other day from the time I left you, except an interval or two of a week or ten days at a time, wch I allow'd in order to satisfy myself, whether the good effects of it were lasting, or only temporary. I think, I may say it has absolutely cured that complaint I used to mention to you, & (what is more) the ill-habit, wch perhaps was the cause of that, & of the flying pains I have every now & then felt in my joints. whenever I use it, it much increases my appetite, & the Heart-burn is quite vanish'd. so I may venture to say, it does good to my Stomach. when I shall speak of its bad effects, you are no longer to treat me as a whimsical body, for I am certain now, that it disorders the head, & much disturbs one's sleep. this I now avoid by taking it immediately before dinner; & besides these things are trifles compared with the good it has done me. in short I am so well, it would be folly to take any other medecine: therefore I reserve Lime-water for some more pressing occasion. I should be glad to know the particulars of Ld Northumb:d & the Archbish:ps illnesses, & how far it has eased them in the Gout.

I am glad you admire Machiavel, & are entertained with Buffon, & edified with the Divine Ashton. the first (they say) was a good Man, as much as he has been abused; & we will hope the best of the two latter. Mr. [Bedingfield], who (as [ ] sent me word) desired to be acquainted with me, call'd here (before I came down) & would pay a visit to my rooms. he made Dr Long conduct him thither, left me a present of a Book (not of his own writing) & a Note with a very civil Compliment. I wrote to him to thank him, & have received an answer, that fifteeen years ago might have turn'd my head. I know [ ] will abuse him to you, but I insist he is a Slanderer, & shall write a Satire upon him, if he does not do Justice to my new Admirer. I have not added a line more to old Caradoc; when I do, you will be sure to see it. you who give yourself the trouble to think of my health, will not think me very troublesome if I beg you to bespeak me a Rope-Ladder (for my Neighbours every day make a great progress in drunkenness, wch gives me reason to look about me) it must be full 36 Foot long, or a little more, but as light & manageable as may be, easy to unroll, & not likely to entangle. I never saw one, but I suppose it must have strong hooks, or something equivalent, a-top, to throw over an iron bar to be fix'd withinside of my window. however you will chuse the properest form, & instruct me in the use of it. I see an Ephraim Hadden near Hermitage Stairs Wapping, that advertises them, but perhaps you may find a better Artisan near you. this with a Canister of Tea & another of Snuff, wch I left at your house, & a Pound of Soap from Mr. Field (for mine is not so good here) will fill a Box, wch I beg the favour of you to send [me], when you can conveniently. my best Compliments to M[rs]. Wharton.

I am ever
Letter ID: letters.0244 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 39
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 39[?]


Date of composition: 9 January 1756
Date (on letter): Jan: 9. 1756
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Cambridge
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 3 pages, 205 mm x 161 mm
Addressed: To / Dr Thomas Wharton M:D: / in Kings-Arms Yard, Coleman / Street / London (postmark: 10 JA ROYS[TON])


Language: English
Incipit: I am quite of Mr Alderman's opinion; provided you have a very...
Mentioned: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Bedingfield, Edward, b. 1730
Buffon, Comte de
Machiavelli, Niccolò
Mason, William, 1724-1797

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 79-80, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter LI, vol. ii, 267-270
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LIX, vol. iii, 144-148
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, including the correspondence of Gray and Mason, 3 vols. Ed. by Duncan C. Tovey. London: George Bell and Sons, 1900-12, letter no. CXXVIII, vol. i, 288-292
  • Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols. Ed. by the late Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], letter no. 213, vol. ii, 455-457